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Home > News > Tugboat Sinking Update
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Tugboat Sinking Bulletin Update

U.S. Coast Guard
RI Dept of Environment Management
Tucker-Roy Marine Towing and Salvage

Monday - November 19, 2000 11:00 A.M.

As a public service, the Unified Command has been issuing bulletins on an as-needed basis to provide updates on the diesel spill that occurred on Friday, November 17, off East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown. A Command Center has been established at the Department of Environmental Management's Coastal Fisheries Laboratory in Jerusalem. This is expected to be the last News Bulletin.

Key phone numbers for obtaining oil spill information and submitting reports are as follows:

For General Information DEM Enforcement Office 222-3070
Coast Guard - Marine Safety Office, Providence 435-2300
To Report Sightings of Oil Coast Guard - Marine Safety Office, Providence 435-2300
24-hour hotline at DEM Enforcement Office 222-3070

Incident Location Map

Status of Spill and Clean-up: The tug was re-floated about 5:20 p.m. Sunday and towed to the state pier at Jerusalem, where it is sitting with its escort tug, the Martha. It was visited this morning by Coast Guard and DEM investigators. Maintenance to seal up openings should be completed by early afternoon, when the tug will move to a dry dock in Fairhaven, Massachusetts for repairs.

Effects of Spill on Natural Resources, Fishing and Boating: None. There are no reports of oiled, injured or dying sea birds or marine life.

Status of Assessment Activities: Coast Guard and DEM emergency response personnel are no longer on scene.

History: On Friday, November 17, at approximately 12:30 a.m., the tugboat Eastern Star, operating out of New Bedford, MA and owned by Tucker-Roy Marine Towing and Salvage, sank in 15 feet of water in Rhode Island Sound approximately 200 yards off the east end of East Matunuck Beach in South Kingstown. The tugboat had been transiting from New Bedford toward Long Island Sound when it started rapidly taking on water and the crew broadcast for assistance. Coast Guard Station Point Judith rescued the three people aboard and contacted the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Providence and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to mitigate the effects of the spill. The tug had an estimated 1200 to 1500 gallons of diesel fuel on board. By noon, an undetermined amount of fuel had been released and there was a strong fuel odor in the vicinity but negligible amounts of oil sheen on the water and no recoverable product to trap with booms. Surf in the area at that time was at 3 - 4 feet with a southwest wind direction. There were no indications that any leaked fuel had washed up on the rocks at the east end of the beach at the Harbor of Refuge. However, diesel fuel is light and dissipates quickly in high surf, wind and sunlight. Divers working for Tucker-Roy Marine revisited the tug on Saturday and strengthened the plugs on the fuel vents. The divers saw no oil in the water as they approached the tug. A few droplets of oil escaped from the engine room during the survey. Tucker-Roy Marine prepared a vessel salvage plan to raise the tug from the bottom. The salvage operation was successfully completed Sunday evening. DEM's oil skimmer remained stationed at Jerusalem in the event it was necessary to protect the Harbor of Refuge.

Other Bulletins
Sunday, November 19 - 4:00 PM
Saturday, November 18 - 5:00 PM
Friday, November 17 - 5:00 PM
Friday, November 17 - 12:30 PM

For General Information 222-6800 • After Hours Emergencies 222-3070 • Disclaimer